Today was the day! The day I've been waiting for all week! My birthday party! So yesterday, Helena, my language helper, her husband, Haza, and her mother, Florentine, and I walked to the neighboring town (about 25 min) to get freshly made juice ( five 2 liter bottles) and then walked to the market (about 15 min) and bought 25 chicken legs/thighs, and lots of vegetables and rice! We then walked home and spent the morning cooking the chicken over a small charcoal “pit” and chopped vegetables while sitting on the floor (they only have two stools and they were full). We had a great time talking and laughing and chopping!
So today around 2:00 pm people started showing up. My friends who helped me cook yestureday plus Florintine's husband, Roger, and niece, Sin (pronouced Seen) and baby (Lida) came first. Our guard and house keeper, Tiana and Jeannin and their two boys, and Neeree and Tony (they own and run a small veggie stand down the road from us where we buy banana's every day) came on Malagasy time, 2:40. Fiona (English) and her husband Narilanto (Malagasy) and their son, Marcus, came as well. They are missionaries with YWAM (Youth With A Mission).
I greeted them, thanked them all for coming, explained what was for lunch and then prayed....all in Malagasy! I was SO nervous and had practiced this with Helena all week! Now I really wanted to bless these hard working people who have been SO kind and helpful to us since we've been here. So, with Helena's help, I had made the food they would have had at a big party. We made Chicken Makasohka (ginger) and rice with veggies. We then had LOTS of fruit and Randy made Carrot Cake!!!!! (Boy was that a hit!) After eating I got out my balloons and made everyone a balloon animal/flower. They loved it! Then I opened my presents. I was so touched when I opened my presents, which I wasn't expecting. I had told everyone to “just come and eat and celebrate, don't bring anything!” I received all hand made things! Florinitine made me a skirt. Haza made me a doll house out of a pizza box! I was amazed at the details! And Tony made me a BEAUTIFUL vase! Oh, tears, tears, tears, tears! I felt so loved and SO special. These people don't have much. So the fact that they put time and energy into their gifts was the greatest gift of all! It was trurly humbling!
After everything started to die down several of our guests stayed and helped clean everything up! I really like that part of the culture! It was so nice to just chit chat and laugh when I couldn't, for the life of me, understand what they were saying to me! The day was truly fulfilling. Pure contentment.